Associate Professor Antigone Kouris APD, PhD, Post Grad Dip Diet, Post Grad Dip Bot Med, BSc Biochem/Micro (Hons)
Senior Academic, Discipline Dietetics and Human Nutrition La Trobe University
Director (Clinical Dietitian), Total Nutrition care
Director, Skinnybik Pty Ltd
Author “Medications: Good and Bad Interactions with foods, herbs and nutrients
Author “Food Sources of Nutrients”
Author “You are what you cook – Mediterranean & South Asian”
How to avoid weight again over the festive/holiday season (Christmas and New Year celebrations)
Statistics show that on average we can gain around 0.5kg during the festive season thanks to all the abundant food and alcohol that we are exposed to. Some people can gain much more than that and unfortunately most people do not lose the weight they gain over the holidays.
You can see how it is easy to gain >5kg over 10 years if you do not actively try to lose this festive weight gain. So what can you do to avoid weight gain over the festive season?
Here are some tips.
- Eat slowly and chew your food thoroughly, savour every mouthful. This will result in eating less food and in feeling fuller faster.
- Watch your portion sizes – eat off smaller plates and avoid going back for seconds unless it’s for salad/veggies.
- Try to balance your plate with a variety of colourful foods – festive foods are typically high in processed carbohydrates (white foods!) that can raise your blood sugars and insulin resulting in hunger and fat storage. Try to balance your plate with this simple guide:
¼ plate only of carb rich foods like pasta and rice or bread
¼ – ½ plate of lean protein like fish/octopus/ calamari/shell fish (preferably grilled not fried), or chicken/red meat or ideally vegetable protein like of bean salad/stew or tofu or a dish containing egg/cheese/quinoa. Protein reduces hunger and appetite.
½ plate of fibre rich colourful salads (containing wholegrains, nuts, seeds, legumes) and/or cooked veggies. Fibre also reduces hunger and appetite.
- Cut-down on taste testing when you are cooking/preparing foods. A small bite of less than a teaspoon is more than enough. Also avoid cooking when you are hungry.
- Bring a healthy dish to share. We often have no control over the food that is being served at a party. Why not bring a healthy dish to share – at least this way you will have something to eat that aligns with your weight management goals.
- Choose desserts wisely. Rather than eating every treat in sight, focus on your favourite and eat it slowly and mindfully, which may leave you feeling more satisfied.
- Limit liquid calories – alcohol increases appetite and alters liver metabolism favouring fat storage, especially around your waist. Avoid drinking too much alcohol. Try diluting spirits and wine with plain soda water or sparkling water. Avoid soft drinks or tonics (if you must have these the research suggests that the diet versions are still better than the full sugar versions). Prefer water wherever possible!
- Reduce the calories in recipes or simply make them healthier!
Baking – replace butter with applesauce, banana or pumpkin puree (these are high in fibre and have less calories than fat); instead of sugar use stevia or erythritol; use dark chocolate or dried fruit instead of milk chocolate/candy; use Greek yoghurt instead of cream/cream cheese; replace half the flour in cakes/biscuits etc with lupin flour (this is very high in protein/fibre and low in carbs). However you will need to warn your guests that your baked goods have lupin as it is an allergen. Check out healthy lupin cake recipes on my website skinnybik.com
Cooking – flavour dishes with herbs and spices and extra virgin olive oil instead of butter; use milk/Greek yoghurt instead of cream; use feta, cottage cheese or ricotta instead of yellow cheese; prefer baking, steaming, roasting, casseroling instead of frying or barbequing. New research is showing that traditional “moist” cooking methods like casseroles are now considered to be the healthiest way to cook because there is minimal browning/charring of ingredients which has been linked to cancer and other diseases. Why not cook a traditional meat casserole instead of the usual BBQ?
- Reduce your food intake the day after your festive eating.
Significantly reducing your calorie intake and avoiding alcohol the following day after a feast can help correct any excess energy intake consumed thus avoiding weight gain. An easy way to do this is to have a late breakfast (after 11am) the day after and ONE other meal (i.e finish eating for the day by 7pm). This extended fasting period will give your liver a chance to break down the alcohol and stored fat/sugar from the day before.
I have published a cook book “You are what you cook” (www.lulu.com) which helps you implement the key features of the Mediteranean Diet and it goes without saying it includes many legume based recipes. I have also developed a healthy range of reduced sugar high fibre gluten free cookies made with lupin flour (a legume!) (www.skinnybik.com).
Until next time…Antigone
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For Antigone’s previous blogs click HERE
“You Are What You Cook, by Dr Antigone Kouris, is a Wellness Cookbook containing 80 easy to prepare healthy recipes for the family using Mediterranean and South Asian flavours. Many of the recipes have been adapted from traditional Greek recipes and made healthier by reducing the calories, fat, carbs and many are naturally gluten free. Therefore most recipes are suitable for weight control and for people with diabetes, high cholesterol and coeliac disease. Recipes have been developed by Dr Kouris using knowledge gained from her Greek mother and mother-in-law, her research on the Mediterranean diet and the latest nutrition research, especially on preferred cooking methods (more stews less grills) and use of herbs and spices (especially oregano and turmeric for their anti-inflammatory properties). The book includes a simple guide for a preferred weekly menu and a ‘plate’ guide for food portions. Click here to purchase a copy.